The General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) offers contract vehicles called “GSA Contracts.” Vendors who want to improve their marketing and efficiency of selling to the Government can acquire GSA Contracts. This cumbersome process is built to frustrate, often times resulting in multiple rejections. Unless you have someone with federal contracting experience in-house, it is a much better use of time and resources to outsource to a GSA Contract Specialist. This 5-part series will break down the process into smaller parts. This will allow you to focus on each part directly and hopefully gain the best understanding possible.
The labor intensive, heavy lifting happens in the second step: preparing the GSA Offer and submitting. A GSA offer consists of 15-30 documents, some are downloaded in the solicitation package and completed: proposal price list, summary of offer, commercial sales practices, and other schedule-specific documents. Additionally, there are many supplemental documents that must be gathered and prepared for every GSA offer: financials, commercial price list, contracts and invoices, etc. Here are a few details that will give you insight into the process as a whole.
The GSA wants to know what your customers have to say about you. So, you must submit client points of contact info to a third part service called Open Ratings. They will all be surveyed, and in the end a report will be generated outlining topics such as quality, reliability, cost, etc. In most cases, at least 5 survey must be completed.
The GSA has recently mandated that a person from within the company must have a Digital Certificate. This allows access to the GSA’s e-offer system, where modifications to GSA contracts are submitted. Digital certificates are issued by third part vendors like Identrust and cost around $120.
The most work (by far) goes into outlining the technical details of your company to the GSA in the format they require. Depending on the GSA Schedule you are submitting for, this is called the “Sections” or the “Factors.” These requirements include many minor details about your company to assure the GSA that you have the capabilities to meet the demands that federal buyers require: financial strength, manpower, internal systems, experience, quality controls, etc.
The Technical Proposal is where contracting a GSA specialist will benefit you the most. The GSA is very touchy about Scope, and one small mis-step in the Technical Proposal can unravel the entire GSA offer. There are also some very vague requirements for project details that only a specialist knows how to answer (through trial and error themselves).
The GSA is as technological as any Federal Agency, and their submission system, E-Offer, is handled through the web. A Digital Certificate grants an employee or GSA specialist access to the E-Offer account for a company. The upload process involves a 7-step process: Corporate Information, Negotiators, Goods/Services, Standard Responses, Solicitation Clauses, Upload Documents, Submit eOffer. Pretty much anyone could handle the upload into the eOffer system. However, all information entered must completely match with the information in the document package, or the GSA offer may be rejected.
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